Proposed legislation regarding drink driving in Ireland is to introduce even stricter limits on blood alcohol levels. The Road Traffic Bill 2010 proposes to lower the current drink driving limit from 80 mg to 50 mg which is possibly the equivalent of one glass of wine. The Bill provides for an automatic sanction of three penalty points along with a €200.00 fine for a first time offender found to have a blood alcohol level of between 50 mg and 80 mg.
This is the first time that Irish legislation provides for an offence of drink driving without an accompanying disqualification period imposed. It is thought that the new measures will come into force in September 2011 which is when the updated breath testiong machines will be rolled out. When the Bill was first proposed it was strongly opposed by the Vitners’ Association who felt that it would be a crippling blow to an already struggling pub trade. However the legislation has now been voted through the Dáil. Drivers in possession of a learner driver permit only and professional drivers will be subject to a limit of 20 mg. The new measures will also introduce mandatory breath testing for drivers involved in serious road accidents and will also ensure that non national drivers recieve penalty points for drink driving.
The primary legislation governing drink driving and road safety in general in the Road Traffic Act 1961, as amended. This Primary Act continues to be updated and modernised on a regular basis. The Road Traffic Act 2006 Act introduced the concept of random breath testing which empowers the Gardaí to breathalyse any driver at a mandatory alcohol checkpoint. However if the Gardaí form the opinion following observation of your driving that you have consumed alcohol then you may still be stopped without a checkpoint breathalysed.
If arrested for an offence and conveyed to the Garda Station you are obliged to provide a specimen of blood, urine or breath. A breath specimen is taken in Garda Stations equipped with the Lion Intoxilyser breath testing device. Otherwise it is blood or urine. The penalties faced on conviction of an offence of drink driving vary on the level of alcohol detected after a specimen has been provided. On a first offence the minimum disqualification period will be between one and three years. However the Judge presiding has the discretion to increase these disqualification periods along with the accompanying fine.
There is provision for the removal of a disqualification order of in excess of two years once two-thirds of the disqualification period has elapsed. However the court has the discretion to refuse such an application particularly if there are previous convictions for drink driving or if the individual has again come to the attention of the Gardaí since the disqualification was first imposed.
All in all the message remains “Don’t drink and drive”.
For further information please contact Daragh Hassett or Shiofra Hassett at Hassett Considine Solicitors, 9 Carmody Street Business Park, Ennis, Co. Clare (065-6865480) or 19 Kilrush Town Centre, Kilrush, Co. Clare (065-901588